European eel

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European eel

Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Actinopterygii
Order:Anguilliformes
Family:Anguillidae
Genus:Anguilla
Species:A. anguilla
Binomial name
Anguilla anguilla
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The European Eel, Anguilla anguilla, is a snakelike fish. They are generally believed to spawn in the Sargasso Sea and the larvae (Leptocephalus) migrate towards Europe in a three-year-long migration. They enter freshwater, where they spent their lives. The slimy coating of the eel is thought to protect the fish against changes in salinity.

Since the 1970s the numbers of eels reaching Europe is thought to have declined by around 90% (possibly even 98%). It is unclear whether this is part of a normal long term cycle, or whether this reflects a decline in eel numbers generally. Potential causes include pollution, parasites such as Anguillicola crassus, river barriers such as hydroelectric plants, and natural changes in the North Atlantic oscillation, Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic drift.

The life history of the eels is one of the most fascinating stories in oceanography, still enigmatic: Eel story.

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